Scott’s Bay tidal development draws criticism

Wendy Elliott
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By Wendy Elliott

Reaction is lukewarm to the preliminary plans of an American tidal power company who are proposing a tidal barrage for Scott’s Bay.

Halcyon Tidal Power will be looking for a lease to build a $3-billion lagoon-style tidal facility that extends from Cape Split to Baxter’s Harbour.

Over 900 people have signed an online petition against the 1,100-megawatt tidal structure.

Natalie Aalders launched the petition calling on the provincial government to reject the lease application. She says visitors come to Scott’s Bay for its natural, untouched beauty and believes a tidal barrage would negatively impact marine life and the traditional fishing grounds of local fishers.

“A large lagoon-style tidal dam, as Halcyon Tidal Power is proposing, would destroy the industries in Scott's Bay and the surrounding areas. It would ruin what people who have settled here for generations have worked hard for,” she said.

Aalders, who operates a business in Scott’s Bay, added that Halcyon Tidal Power “has no vested interest in the area. They are not a stakeholder in the families, businesses and natural wonders of our area.”

Halcyon spokesman Ted Verrill says that power from the facility, which would stretch across 10 kilometres, would be three times cheaper than the power from the province’s new tidal feed-in tariffs.

Dr. Anna Redden, director of both the Acadia Tidal Energy Institute and the Acadia Centre for Estuarine Research, says Halcyon representatives have been to this region three or four times.

Matthew Baker, a graduate student in biology at Acadia, questions whether a large-scale industrial project in the Bay of Fundy would impact marine life. Long-time professor Graham Daborn adds that tidal turbines are not known for being friendly to fish.

Read about research Acadia students are doing in the area of tidal energy and environment here. 

Daborn says it is hard to believe that the Halcyon design won’t have problems with both sediment and fish kill. He points out that herring spawn in the inner reaches of Scott’s Bay.

Federal fisheries scientists can’t offer much research on fish stocks in the area and Daborn says better ways of monitoring marine life are needed. Acadia faculty and students are working in that direction.

Redden noted that the tidal project near Digby has given local residents more ownership. Fundy Tidal has signed an agreement with a producer from the Netherlands to install an array of in-stream turbines in Digby Gut.

Fundy Tidal’s 1.95-megawatt project is slated to go in the water in the spring of 2015, after site selection and regulatory approvals have been completed.

Redden pointed out that Halcyon is likely to prove its technology somewhere else before entertaining any construction here.

“The first one could be a game changer,” she said.

Daborn said a small inlet, like the one in Maine that Halcyon is hoping to utilize, looks more feasible than a wide bay.

Halifax will be hosting the fifth International Conference on Ocean Energy (ICOE) next fall, and Redden said it is slated to attract between 700-800 leaders and experts in the global marine renewable energy industry.

Worldwide, there is renewed interest in tidal impoundments, like the one in La Rance, France, where energy extraction involves the impoundment of seawater behind a barrage or lagoon. South Korea built one in 2011.


Organizations: Acadia Tidal Energy Institute, Acadia Centre for Estuarine Research, Ocean Energy

Geographic location: Digby, Bay of Fundy, Netherlands Maine La Rance France South Korea

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Recent comments

  • Hoping They Go Away
    December 05, 2013 - 14:38

    I think everyone is in such a rush to find cheap sustainable energy resources that they are neglecting the obvious choice, solar. Most scientists agree, including David Suzuki (who is touring right now on the subject), that solar is the route that has the least amount of negative repercussions. Companies like Halcyon are only looking at profits and have no interest in sustainable resources. If you have been to their website, you can tell this isn't a company with 3 Billion to spend. I imagine they are hoping to get it from investors, particularly our government, and after they have paid their directors, will build a shoddy project and pull out before the you-know-what hits the fan. When the silt accumulates on a Three Gorges level, the tax payers will be stuck holding the bag. If any development occurs in Scott's Bay, it shouldn't be private companies from other places. It should be developed by talking to the people first, not as an afterthought, and owned by the people as a public project. Tidal sounds like clean energy, but it's really not. Solar is. If our province mandated solar power as part of all new home construction, as some places do now, then we would actually be selling power back to the grid as home owners. Doesn't that make more sense?